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Title

: February Exhibition, and March Exhibition

Author

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Date

1921

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Tapestry by Mlle. Fernande Dubois: A very large tapestry, the work of Mlle. Fernande Dubois, hangs in the main corridor at the foot of the staircase. It is exhibited in America under the patronage of Their Majesties, King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, His Excellency Baron de Cartier, Belgian Ambassador to the United States, Baroness De Cartier, Hon. Pierre Mali, Belgian Consul General at New York, and Mrs. Mali. The tapestry is woven after a decorative panel by the Belgian painter Constant Montald, and depicts the Renaissance of Art, under the title "Toward the Ideal."The original panel was not intended for translation into tapestry, a medium requiring a specially prepared cartoon, and under this difficulty Mlle. Dubois worked for thirteen years, till she had made a tapestry measuring 25 feet 1 1/2 inches in length and 11 feet 5 inches in height. The first thread was woven in June, 1907; the last in May, 1920.The Germans, during their occupation of Brussels, offered the weaver every temptation to move her work to Germany—350,000 marks, a home and the necessary capital to found a school of tapestry weaving; but they could not divert her from the patriotic ambition to revive the ancient art in her own country. The Belgian Government desired to purchase the tapestry, but the war had sapped its financial resources so that it was unable to do so. For this reason Mlle. Dubois decided, at the suggestion of her advisors, to bring the tapestry to America, in the hope that a sale might make possible the foundation by her of a school of tapestry in Brussels.The tapestry is a masterpiece of weaving. In a dreamlike landscape stand two figures representing the Arts, who are invited by an angel to enter a boat ready to proceed across the lake of Life, rowed by four angels, while a fifth loosens the rope which has held the boat to the shore of the Past. Beneath is woven the legend "Vers l'Ideal."Laces from the Needle and Bobbin Club: The collection of laces sent to Minneapolis by the Needle and Bobbin Club, of New York, was an unusually satisfactory exhibition. The examples were carefully selected, from the collections of members of the Club, to show the development of the art of lace making from its rise in the XVI century to its decline in the XIX. They were effectively mounted so that they could be framed in the Institute frames, and were labeled not only with the country of origin and the approximate date, but with suggestive notes regarding stitches and style.Arranged by centuries and countries in the alcoves, they showed the large outlines of the history of lace almost at a glance—the derivation of the early patterns from the primitive technique of cut work (square holes cut in the linen and filled with needle work), the gradual influence of Renaissance and Baroque arabesques, the irregular bobbin forms of the northern countries undergoing transformation through contact with imports from Italy in the XVII century; the culmination of the art in the exquisitely playful Rococo of the XVIII century, the classical reaction before the French Revolution, and the commercial influence seen in the last century.A considerable power in aesthetic and historical education is packed in the small trunk which carries this exhibition, and the Needle and Bobbin Club deserve much thanks.March ExhibitionThe Emma B. Hodge Collection of Samplers: An extraordinary collection of over one hundred samplers has been lent to the Institute by Mrs. Emma B. Hodge of Chicago. These comprise works of the XVII, XVIII and XIX Centuries; American, Swedish, English, Nova Scotian, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mexican, German and Chinese. They will be shown in galleries C7 and C8.Paintings by Speicher, Beal and Schofield: Oil paintings by Eugene E. Speicher, A.N.A., Gifford Beal, N.A., and W. Elmer Schofield, N.A., will be shown in Gallery C9.Mezzotints in Color After Famous Paintings: The exhibition of mezzotints by A. Arlent Edwards in the Print Gallery (here on indefinite loan from Mr. and Mrs. Keith Merrill) has been so popular that it will be continued for at least another month. The charm of mezzotint engraving in color is the velvety softness of the tone, the delicacy of the coloring, and the decorative quality. The border or frame which Mr. Edwards has engraved around so many of his compositions also adds very much to the pleasing and decorative effect of the whole.Most of the portraits and compositions are from masterpieces that have been reproduced often in various processes so that they are familiar to many. This no doubt is an added attraction. The mezzotints do not always give an exact facsimile, either in composition or in coloring, of the subject represented, but the general effect is pleasing so that we are not thrown into a critical mood to expect qualities that can perhaps be better obtained through another medium. These mezzotints are done in the spirit of the 18th century, and are perhaps the most charming when representing beautiful ladies and compositions of graceful fancy. Although the subjects represent many schools of widely different character, the mezzotint interpretations of the paintings do not show a marked distinction between the work of the Dutch, English, French and Italian Schools. The subjects being familiar, we place them in their proper schools according to the subject rather than the technique of the handling.To the right of the entrance is a portrait of Lady Hamilton, after Romney, noted for her beauty and exquisite grace of figure. She became the favorite sitter of the artists of the time. It has been said of Romney that he was not only the painter of women, but he might almost be called the painter of one woman, so often does the face and form of Emma, Lady Hamilton, appear on his canvas. The print on exhibition represents her as a bacchante, and is from an early painting made before she became Lady Hamilton. The original painting is in the Rothschild Collection at Seamore Palace, London. Mr. Sidney Colvin speaking of Lady Hamilton says, "It was in the best time of Romney's life that he came under the influence of the woman whose face and figure haunt his art and enkindle his pictures, both from life and from imagination, with a new fire and charm. It takes one back to the days of the old Italian artists—to the mystic and recurring smile of Leonardo's Mona Lisa, to the suave cajoling witchery of Andrea del Sarto's Lucrezia, to the superb disdain of Bordone's misnamed Violante beneath her crown of golden hair—when we see the work of the later artist so filled and haunted, as Romney's at this time comes to be, with a single face and form one of beautiful and entrancing, without a soul that is her own, one made all for love and lavishness and mimicry—the face and form of Emma Lyon."Another well known portrait by the same painter is "The Parson's Daughter," an altogether charming face of irregular beauty.Among the English artists represented in the exhibition are Gainsborough, Raeburn, Lawrence and Sir Joshua Reynolds. It will remembered that Reynolds did much to encourage mezzotint engraving in his day, and realized that his fame would probably rest largely on the mezzotint reproductions of his works. Reynolds' career, contrary to that of most artists, was one of unbroken success. He painted English gentlemen, English ladies, English children. This is his range. "Not to be painted by Reynolds was for a person of note almost a breach of duty; and in his canvases we see mirrored the men and women who contributed, in whatever department, to the eminence of the period." It is said he received six sitters a day and calculated upon finishing a portrait in four hours.Another well known subject is "Nature" (the Calmady children), painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence. The story is told how Lawrence, captivated by the beauty of the two children, was so desirous to paint them that he offered to do so for a sum far less than he usually received for such work; of his zeal and enthusiasm as the painting progressed; of his pleasure in his two little models, who were brought daily to his studio to sit for him; of how he would frequently detain them to dinner, on which occasions he would feed them himself. And play and work and read to them until they were rested and could again be placed in position before his easel. And the children, we are told, caught his amiable humor, and, without fear or shyness, accepted him as their friend and playmate. Lawrence considered this his best picture.On the wall opposite the entrance are three well known portraits which in the mezzotints almost look as if they had been done by the same painter—Sister Catherine after Van der Weyden, Anne of Cleves after Holbein and An Old Lady of Bruges (Margaret Van Eyck?) after Van Eyck. Among the Italian paintings represented are Bianca Maria Sforza, wife of Maximilian I, after Ambrogio da Predis, and the charming portrait, Elvira, "the snub-nose beauty," possibly by Verrocchio.In looking over the assemblage of personages, one is conscious that they enacted willing or unwilling roles in the drama of the period, and that some of the characters lead the most turbulent lives; yet placed together as they are on exhibition, there seems to be no jarring note, the pictures stir no profound thoughts or challenge much inquiry. One is just led to enjoy the delicate coloring and velvety tones and the decorative effect as a whole, and looked at from this point of view, they are delightful.Referenced Work of Art
  1. Lady Hamilton, Mezzotint
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Source: Marie C. Lehr, "February Exhibition," and "March Exhibition," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 10, no. 3 (March, 1921): 21-23.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009